Tilting at the Right, Leaning to the Left
"It's not that they never present the other point of view," Greenwald says of Fox. "It's that they present, a percentage of the time, one point of view." While he considered including some of the non-conservative voices on Fox, he says, "it's a film. At times you make the decision -- that's not so interesting."
Greenwald does highlight instances in which anchors put plenty of topspin on the ball. David Asman, teasing an upcoming segment with the headline "Jobs Killer?," said: "John Kerry's plan to bring millions of jobs back to America, well, someone here says, watch out! Kerry's plan will end up killing more jobs instead."
Still, some of the editing in the movie is questionable. In a montage involving criticism of Kerry's tax policies, political correspondent Carl Cameron is shown saying: "If you want to destroy jobs in this country, you raise taxes." Left on the cutting-room floor is that Cameron was quoting Commerce Secretary Don Evans.
During the debate over former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, a Fox anchor is seen in the movie calling his book "an appalling act of profiteering" -- but he was quoting Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Fox hosts criticizing Clarke are mixed in with such administration officials as Condoleezza Rice and Scott McClellan, who were saying the same things on other networks. A split-screen debate on Fox between conservative Rich Lowry and liberal Ellen Ratner used only Lowry in the movie.
One embarrassing moment in the movie shows Cameron getting ready to interview candidate Bush in 2000. "My wife has been hanging out with your sister" as she goes "all over the state campaigning," he told the candidate. Cameron says in an interview that his wife talked about becoming a Republican volunteer in Montgomery County but never did and never joined the Bush campaign.
Fox wins no awards for decorum. O'Reilly is seen saying he has only once told a guest to shut up, then in several quick cuts telling guests to "shut up," cutting one man's mike, and telling Franken at a book fair to "shut up."
Why has Fox, which outdraws the other cable news channels, become such a fat target? "Being the most popular news network in the country has a lot to do with it," says Fox's Moody. "To say that what Bill O'Reilly says at 8 o'clock is the same as our hard-news coverage, it's simply not. If you watch our news coverage, you'd have a hard time coming to the conclusion that we're covering a different agenda than everybody else."
Will "Outfoxed" change many minds? "If this can get a good, vigorous debate going," Greenwald says, "I'll be a very happy camper."
© 2004 The Washington Post Company